Comprehensive Guidelines for Safe Travel to School in School Priority Zones of the City launched by PMC

To help create a safer environment for children during their daily commute to and from school, The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has taken a significant step in ensuring safe commute to school. These carefully designed School Priority Zones Guidelines are a crucial component of the comprehensive School Travel Improvement Plan and Mobility Plan for Infant, Toddler and their Caregiver, and have been developed through extensive cooperation among schools, educational establishments, technical experts, and civil society groups. Parisar along with WRI India and technical experts of Urban Design teams had supported PMC in formulating these guidelines.

The School Priority Zone Guidelines introduce a variety of feasible and adaptable solutions that have been developed during the Pedestrian Week conducted with the Pune Pedestrian Day of 2022 on 11th December and validated through collaborative trials that engaged various schools. These solutions encompass improvements in road safety, strategies for traffic control, upgraded signage, and enhanced resting areas. As a part of this initiative, the PMC has identified 19 priority zones within the city where concentrated efforts will be directed to implement these new safety measures.

The Pune Municipal Corporation’s Road department has carefully formulated a comprehensive document named "School Priority Zone Guidelines." This guideline is the result of thorough analyses of city mobility data, surveys, and productive discussions with school stakeholders. Notably, the data analysis has underscored that 43% of educational trips are made on foot, with bicycles accounting for 4% of journeys. However, the assessment has identified several challenges related to mobility, including unsafe street infrastructure for walk and cycle, difficulties in road-crossing, parking encroachments, inadequate lighting, and anti-social activities in the vicinity of schools.

The main areas of focus for action include safe independent commute and access to school by Walk and Cycle, enforcing speed limits through design, effectively managing on-street parking, prohibiting the anti-social activities sale of alcohol and tobacco near schools’ vicinity, and improving public transportations services like buses, school bus along with auto rickshaws to meet the transportation needs of students.

Through this, independent mobility of children with increased use of non-motorized transport (NMT) and public transit modes can be achieved. The perception of caregivers accompanying younger children to and from school and their other intermediate destinations will also improve.

In accordance with the guidelines, a 'school priority zone' refers to the immediate vicinity around a school where most students travel between their homes and school, either by walking, cycling, or by public transportation. These zones experience significant footfall from children and their caregivers, particularly during school hours in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The guidelines define the 'school priority zone' as 100 meters on either side of the school entrance and 500m radius of the surrounding area. The term 'schools' encompasses various types of educational institutions such as kindergartens, Anganwadi’s, primary, secondary, and higher secondary schools, catering to children of all age groups.

Given Pune's status as an educational hub, numerous schools are situated close to each other, forming clusters that witness substantial numbers of school children, as well as school buses and vans, during specific times of the day. Designating these areas as 'school priority zones' is crucial for planning appropriate infrastructure and enabling safe and independent travel for children to and from school.

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